During the Cold War the Soviets developed, especially in the 1980s, an important type of politicial warfare called “active measures”. The use of this warfare has been useful to Kremlin today when using what has been called “special war”. It is the amalgam of espionage, subversion, even forms of terrorism to attain political ends without actually going to war in any conventional sense. The Russians have however been good at what is called “maskirovka” – disguised warfare – for centuries.
A recent study by Polish expert Jolanta Darczewska, The Anatomy of Russian Information Warfare – the Crimean Operation, A Case Study (2014) goes a long way analysing Russian geopolitical thinking to explain the present Russian techniques. Moscow claims that the reason for these activities is that there is a Western information war against Russia.
The present Russian geopolitical theories treat information as a dangerous weapon that has an unlimited range. It is easy accessible and permeates all state borders without restriction.
The author of the new Polish study considers representatives of geopolitical thinking in Russia, Alexander Dugin and Igor Panarin, responsible for popularizing geopolitics. They also take part in information warfare as opinion leaders. Their doctrine offers a theoretical base for the argument that Russia defends traditional values and “true liberty”.
Against “Atlantic civilization” stands the “Russian Eurasian civilization”. The Atlanticists seek global hegemony in an attempt to defeat Russia. Ukraine cannot, based on these ideas, be allowed to have closer relations to the West. The occupation of Crimea is presented in the context of this clash of the two civilizations.
The new information strategy of Russia is a policy of strengthening the state and building a power base of research and science, organizations, media, diplomacy etc. It is used for mobilization of society and reconstructing Russian spheres of influence both in Europe and Central Asia. The author concludes that Russia’s information war will intensify on the battlefields of disinformation and subversion. Kremlin is constantly modifying and perfecting its propaganda techniques using new media tools and even introducing innovative techniques in for instance networking services.